Posted by: Nito | January 2, 2013

The Role of the Chosen People – Part 3 (You and Me)

In Part 2 it was mentioned how God’s project called “the chosen people” is still running today, but with a “slightly” modified project team. One of the project’s initial goals—to root out polytheism from the face of the Earth—has been achieved, however in a different way to what was the original plan (see Part 2 for more details).

The other aim of the project was to create the holy nation. The role of the holy nation is to showcase the way how life should be lived and to be the proof (to the rest of the world) that God loves such a life and blesses it abundantly. In the factory called “the chosen people” the main product manufactured and “sold” is a ‘model life’, a template of a good, blessed and wondrous life, that everybody else on Earth would copy and follow.

So, in order to maintain the purity and holiness of His chosen people, God gave them the Commandments and the Law, which Jesus summarized with the following words: “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).  For the detailed review of the Commandments and the Law refer to the Book of Deuteronomy.

To love your neighbor as yourself is a difficult feat, especially when there are so many of them, “slow” ones, queued up in front of you at the petrol station, and in the shopping center car park, in the bank or at the doctor’s etc. It is so easier to love them when your neighbors are of the same skin color and nationality. And it is really easy when they have the same attitude towards life, are of the same age, same build, love same type of food, practice the same religion and so on and on and on. In other words, when your neighbor is you, you are really in love with him and her. That is, until he or she start to change and show that they are not so much like you…

Let’s pause and mediate a little bit on Jesus’ words and ask ourselves who our neighbors really are. If we are children of God (see 1 John 3:1) is it possible that our neighbors are His children also? What if they have different religious backgrounds and worship God differently to us? Could it be that they nevertheless worship the same Almighty?

World religions by percentage

As we examine the major religions of the world, we will find out that most of them teach that the Lord is all-powerful, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal. The exceptions are Buddhist scholars who argue that these attributes apply to the Creator-God, in whom Buddhists do not believe. They believe in God as the Impersonal Truth, pure Existence, pure Consciousness and pure Bliss (Sat-Chit-Ananda). Hindus believe in such a God as well, but they do also acknowledge that this impersonal Spirit-God (Sat-Chit-Ananda) created the universe, and by the virtue of having done that, He automatically assumed the role of the Creator, Father-God.

Therefore, essentially, both Buddhists and Hindus believe in the same Creator-God, with the difference being only in the viewpoint. But, how does this compare with other monotheistic religions, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam, where belief in the all-powerful, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal God is also practiced?

Based on the premise that there could be no two (separate) omnipresent eternal beings, we should conclude that we all indeed believe in the same Almighty, because to have two (or more) separate omnipresent eternal beings is an oxymoron (i.e., impossible). They cannot be separate because they would mutually exclude some “living” space from each other and hence they wouldn’t be omnipresent. If they are separate and omnipresent at the same time, the only possibility for this situation to occur is if they would exist at different time intervals (and hence they wouldn’t be eternal).

Hence we are all brothers and sisters in spirit. Should we then quarrel and fight whose God is greater, or boast who has a greater faith? Surely not; let those who love their neighbors the most, boast the most. Shall those who love the most, stand on the hilltops and shout and advertise their great love? Impossible! for “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Those who quarrel and fight, who hate and kill in the name of religion (and I’m specifically talking about the persecution of Christians in Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist countries and the persecution of Jews all over the world) are not God’s children, because “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

But. let us come back to the topic of the chosen people. In Part 2 it was described how God started with the single nation, made of Abraham’s descendants, and how the original plan was to place this nation into the middle of the polytheistic landscape in order to influence nations around it to embrace monotheism. Even though the early stages of this project experienced setbacks, eventually, a strong and influential Kingdom of Israel was established.

Hebrew nation has grown and transformed from a scared and unfaithful mob (see the golden calf incident in Exodus 32 and refusal to enter and fight for the Promised Land in Numbers 14) into an ancient powerhouse “controlling a number of weaker client states like Philistia, Moab, Edom, Ammon, with a number of Aramaean city-states (Aram-Zobah and Aram-Damascus) becoming vassal states; the imperial border stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Desert, from the Red Sea to the Euphrates River. According to the biblical account, the empire had a large land area” (from Wikipedia).

However, at the peak of  the ancient Israel’s power and influence, while God’s project had just started to yield desired fruits, king Solomon allowed his wives to build worship places for other gods. This was something that slapped God right over His face; something that He specifically told Israelites never to do (e.g. see Deuteronomy 30:17-20). The reason was that God established Hebrews as leaders and their purpose was to lead others out of the ridiculousness of polytheism, and not to become followers of what they see in their neighborhood. God sternly warned Hebrews not to adopt impure and evil ways, or otherwise they would suffer the same fate as the  former inhabitants of the land, and the land would “vomit them out” (see Leviticus 18:24-30). And when Israelites did just that (i.e. adopted polytheism and started behaving badly),  God had accused them of having done so even more wickedly then their non-believing neighbors (see Ezekiel 5:5-10).

So, after Solomon, the ancient Israel started to backslide and the empire was first divided peacefully into the northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) kingdoms, but soon the brothers (i.e. north and south) started to war against each other. After a while the northern Kingdom of Israel was so unfocused on God that God let it be destroyed and overrun by the Assyrians. Northern kingdom was wiped out and a big part of God’s project team was destroyed.

This was to be a wake up call for the remaining Hebrews in the Kingdom of Judah. The south saw rulers destroying worship places of other gods and then restoring them; God threatening them with foreign invaders and then miraculously removing the threat. But alas, as time went by, new generations of Hebrews forgot more and more about the One true God and went after other gods, according to their own imagination. Hebrews lost focus and forgot that their only purpose as a nation was to influence other nations to accept God, and not to abandon God by accepting customs and beliefs of others.

This required a serious review of the project. As every project requires a good leadership to succeed, so also the success of “the chosen people” project depended on the Hebrew leadership. This leadership consisted of the royal family (coming from the bloodline of David) and the Levite priesthood (that attended to God’s temple and performed other religious duties and had political responsibilities). But over the time this leadership got spoiled and perverted.

In Isaiah 5 God talks about the status of the project and likens it to a vineyard. He expresses His frustration with the lack of results: “What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes” (Isaiah 5:4)?  The nation that was to lead a ‘model life’ (i.e. good grapes) led a corrupt and lustful life (i.e. wild grapes). Individuals turned to profiteering, spending days on leisure and drinking (see Isaiah 5:8-12), taking all the benefits of being “chosen” for granted and thinking it gives them right to do whatsoever they please; calling “evil good, and good evil,” proclaiming “darkness for light, and light for darkness,” making themselves righteous in their own eyes (see Isaiah 5:18-21).  Judicial system was corrupt (see Isaiah 5:22-23) and leadership nonexistent (see Isaiah 41:28 and Ezekiel 22:30). Virtually nobody followed the Law or practiced the life God wanted them to live (see Ezekiel 22:25-29).

Initially, the  setup of the project made certain that the good leadership was promoted appropriately. After Moses, the leaders were chosen by God and appointed by Him as judges over the people. He would chose the most suitable individual to be a judge and lead Hebrews during the particular time period. But then Hebrews looked into their neighborhood and saw how those nations were ruled by kings, hence they desired the same thing for themselves. This was another slap on God’s face, as He was their supreme leader and their only King. Even though He warned them of the disadvantages of maintaining the royal family, and changes they would need to accept as a nation, people didn’t want to listen so they were granted a king to rule over them (see 1 Samuel 8).

As mentioned above, everything was good while kings were leading the project in the right direction, but few hundred years down the track God-focus was lost and everybody was doing whatever they liked; pretty much anything could go by. Reminds me a bit of the current New Age movement—everybody makes their own rules and are justified by those same rules—there is no Higher Power to answer to and people are their own gods (refer again to the Isaiah 5:18-21).

So, God decided to bring in a new leader for the project, somebody that will not fail and will manage the project until it is finished. He announces this with the following words: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law” (Isaiah 42:1-4).

But, this new leader will not behave as the leaders before him; he will do something unusual. He will make the ultimate sacrifice and give his own life for the forgiveness of the sins of all (see Isaiah 53:4-6). This pretty much means that if anything goes wrong with the project or the team members he would be the one to take the blame. So, by appointment of the default scapegoat, God made sure that there would be no legal obstacle that would be able to stop or derail the project in the future. By making the ultimate sacrifice (of the innocent blood) the new leader gained absolute authority over the whole of God’s creation and is able to make any necessary changes required for the success of the project on the Earth.

Also, it seemed that having a single nation as the project team did not guarantee  project’s stability and team’s dedication, motivation and focus. Hence, the teaching mechanisms that were designed to keep the whole of the Hebrew nation pure and holy were not longer needed. God had abandoned the collective approach, where the whole of the nation would be punished for the sin of the one, like it was done in the case of the defeat at Ai due to the sin of Achan (see Joshua 7). God adopted the individual approach, which means that the project team is comprised of worthy individuals added to the project one by one, as they express their interest. The switch to the individual approach was “advertised” to the Jews with the following words: “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (see Ezekiel 18:19-20).

This opened up a possibility to have members of other nations, living outside of the Hebrew territory, as part of the virtual project team as mentioned in the Part 2. We see this in the story of Daniel and how God used him as the instrument to convert Darius, the king of Persia, and cause him to decree “that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel”  (see Daniel 6:25-28). In the story of Esther we see how God placed Mordecai, a Jew, to be the second in charge in the whole of the Persian Empire, essentially repeating the same feat He has done before with Joseph in Egypt (see Esther 10). Perhaps the first honored non-Jew member of the virtual project team was king Cyrus of Persia, of whom we find this prophecy in Isaiah:  “Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’ (Isaiah 44:28)

So, when Jesus came some 2000 years ago and passed the requirements test for the new leader (see Revelation 5) the new phase of the project started.  He came to the Jews, but he charged his disciples to go out into the world and preach the gospel (good news) to all the people, to kings of the nations and everybody that wanted to listen. He said, ” All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

As people listened and believed in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, they were added to the project as per God’s plan.  He had decided to virtualize the project team and extend the recruitment base long ago when He said,  “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me” (Jeremiah 33:22). This means that the leadership of the project (kings  and priests) are recruited from around the globe and that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we are all made “kings and priests to His God and Father” (see Revelation 1:6).

So, let us conclude this article and the tree-part series with the following. If you are not yet part of the project called “the chosen people”, but would love to join in, you will need to make an appointment with Jesus Christ who is the project manager appointed by God our Father.And you can do this with these simple words:

Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart, I make you my Lord and Savior.

The rules of the project are very simple and straightforward. Perhaps the best description of the project etiquette is given by the apostle John with the following words:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

“No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:7-16).

Happy New Year!

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Responses

  1. […] God, Many religions“  , “Pentecostal, Charismatic … Yoga” and “The Role of the Chosen People – Pat 3” that talk about all major religions pointing to the same God. Even though I do believe that […]

  2. […] let’s leave that story to part 3 (as I’m writing this for a long time already). In part 3 we might look more into mistakes […]


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